Last week I received an email from a reader that said this:
I have noticed part of your site reads “if it were your daughter, girlfriend, sister or wife …..What would you do?” I am just curious as to why you have limited this statement to describing female victims when there are male victims of sex trafficking as well?
This is a great question and one that I’d like to address on the blog for everyone to read, because I think it is very important and not talked about enough. I emailed Brian McConaghy, a friend of mine from Ratanak who works with children in and teenagers in Cambodia, and this is what he had to say:
From what you’ve seen in Cambodia, what ages are the boys that are trafficked for sex?
Initially trafficked and abused from the age of about 8-9. This later develops into an older form of trade with teenage boys who often, being totally gender confused as a result of earlier abuse, become ladyboys and male prostitutes.
Who is buying and selling these boys? I am assuming it’s generally men, not women, who pay to abuse them?
Largely International pedophiles and as the boys grow older into Lady boys and male prostitutes the customers are homosexual/ bisexual international sex tourists. There is some domestic abuse of boys but it is limited.
When my husband Jay and I made our first documentary about sex trafficking in Canada, we interviewed Brian. Before the camera started to roll, he told us that one boy that came to their kids club could not even physically sit when doing the activities because of the abuse he was being forced to endure each night. That is why Ratanak and Hagar International partnered together to build a high security safe house specifically for boys. Brian and his wife have also adopted two Cambodian boys, in an effort to give them a life that would prevent them from falling prey to such abuse.
Overall though, boys and men are trafficked for sex in much smaller numbers than girls and women. They are trafficked in large numbers for labour though, and can be found on fishing boats, cocoa plantations, coffee farms, construction sites, and brick factories. The horrific conditions in these ‘work’ environments strip them of their dignity and livelihood. Can you imagine your brother or father being forced to work in a dangerous, grueling industry for no pay? Heartbreaking.
Hope for the Sold focuses mainly on sexual exploitation, and women and children are the most vulnerable for this. But the experience of men must not be overlooked. Do we ever check to make sure that what we purchase at the store is not supporting slavery? Thanks Elizabeth for such an important question. We have a long way to go if we are to truly end slavery in our world.
For some informative articles on this, check out:
- Trafficking of Men in Thailand, from www.humantrafficking.org
- Trafficking of men a trend less considered The case of Belarus and Ukraine, IOM Migration Research Series
- Campaigner’s warning as first cases of men being trafficked into Scotland as sex slaves are revealed by Annie Brown
**If you haven’t heard already, we’re making another film! Find out the details here.